Quarterly Essay 77- Cry Me A River: The Tragedy of the Murray-Darling Basin by Margaret Simons

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The Murray-Darling Basin is the food bowl of Australia, and it’s in trouble. What does this mean for the future – for water and crops, and for the people and towns that depend on it?

In Cry Me a River, acclaimed journalist Margaret Simons takes a trip through the Basin, all the way from Queensland to South Australia. She shows that its plight is environmental but also economic, and enmeshed in ideology and identity.

Her essay is both a portrait of the Murray-Darling Basin and an explanation of its woes. It looks at rural Australia and the failure of politics over decades to meet the needs of communities forced to bear the heaviest burden of change. Whether it is fish kills or state rivalries, drought or climate change, in the Basin our ability to plan for the future is being put to the test.

“The story of the Murray-Darling Basin … is a story of our nation, the things that join and divide us. It asks whether our current systems – our society and its communities – can possibly meet the needs of the nation and the certainty of change. Is the Plan an honest compact, and is it fair? Can it work? Are our politics up to the task?”
Margaret Simons, Cry Me a River